Wellbeing is a fashionable buzz word at the moment. 2020 was a year like no other: lockdown after lockdown, limited physical contact with others and being told to only leave the house if absolutely necessary. We have been confined to our home more than ever before, and even if we didn’t realise it, our homes have played a major part in maintaining our wellbeing during this period.
It is therefore essential that the spaces around us are as beneficial to our health and wellbeing as possible. But, wellbeing can mean different things to different people: one person may feel that yoga helps them to relax, whilst another may enjoy cooking or art. The design process is therefore an extremely personal experience.
In a recent BIID article on designing for health and wellbeing, Angela Bardino, Principal Interior Designer for Jacobs explains why the consultation stage is so important. She says that designers should find out exactly what wellbeing means to the you, the client. ‘The key is to incorporate these defined goals from the project outset at a scale that is comfortable and in line with the project budget rather than being an after-thought or a ‘plant in the corner’ approach.’
Designing spaces with health and wellbeing in mind has always been a priority for Natalie Holden Interiors, and its importance has only been amplified in the last year. Here we want to explore what wellbeing means to our team, and how we’ve been incorporating health and wellbeing into our recent projects.
We’ve noticed a definite shift recently, with more clients approaching us with a brief prioritising their wellbeing.
In our Wilmslow project, our team have planned for a loft conversion to act as a multifunctional space which can be used as a home office space as well as doubling up as a retreat from daily stresses. Where the rest of the home has been designed with an urban and industrial feel, the loft will act as a sanctuary; a space where the homeowners can relax, practice yoga and meditation.
In another project, our team have worked on a design concept for both a master bedroom and dressing room. We have worked hard to incorporate colour psychology and positive association in this project, so we therefore made suggestions for a muted, natural colour palette for the bedroom alongside soft textures to create a cosy, relaxed feel. In contrast, we recognised that the function of a dressing room is to bring joy and excitement, so opted for more bright colours which was also inspired by the client’s love of autumn and spring.
To explore the meaning of wellbeing further, we spoke to our Creative Director, Natalie, for her insight into what wellbeing means to her personally and as a business owner:
‘It’s been a crazy 12 months of complete uncertainty, so I’ve tried my hardest to make an effort to prioritise my wellbeing over this period. I feel like wellbeing isn’t just a state of being, it’s something you have to constantly work on. To me, wellbeing is the choice of stopping work at 6pm to take my dog for a walk instead of working a 12 hour day. It’s spending an hour on the phone to a friend or family who I haven’t spoken to for ages, or it’s locking myself away for an hour to have a relaxing bath after a stressful week. These are the things that reset me and bring a sense of balance to my life. Once lockdown is over, wellbeing will be to invite friends and family over to our newly decorated space, so we can spend quality time with each other (it’s currently being decorated as we speak, like every other home in the country I’m gathering!).’
‘I feel like wellbeing isn’t just a state of being, it’s something you have to constantly work on.’
We also wanted to know more about Natalie’s favourite wellbeing design features which she has included in past projects. Here’s what she had to say:
‘In one of my lounge design projects my client was really keen to have a log burning fire installed in the space, but they also wanted to have a tv in there too. The brief for this room was to create a relaxing space to de-stress and spend time with family. They loved the outdoors so I took lots of inspiration from nature for this room. The colours, the materials and the patterns, plus we integrated lots of plants into the space too. As it was their second lounge, I suggested why not take away the tv altogether? Instead the focus became the log burning fire which created a really nice social space for the family to interact, tell stories, play boardgames, a place to entertain when friends came over, and a space to curl up on the sofa with a book and a cup of tea. Without the distraction of the tv, we created an experience similar to when you go camping and sit around the fire in the evening. A space to truly switch off away from the chaos of every day life.’
What about wellbeing at work?
It would be meaningless of us to discuss wellbeing within the home, without looking internally at our own work practices. The NHI team all work from home, so having a realistic work/life balance is very important. When asked how wellbeing is promoted within the business, Natalie explained:
‘I think it’s really important for people to feel valued and appreciated, so I make a conscious effort to listen to everyone’s opinions, ideas and thoughts and make sure I take these on board. I have this approach for client’s, other companies I work with and also my team. We also make sure that we have a proper lunch break, because it’s so important in order to stay creative and productive.
Wellbeing vs. Sustainability
Interior solutions based around wellbeing are often also sustainable choices. It’s not a coincidence that we respond more positively to natural materials and natural colour palettes, which is why we work hard to specify naturally occurring materials and ethically produced products within our projects. Sourcing sustainably is a difficult job as the market isn’t quite there yet, however, where we can, we try to source FF&E which follows a circular model in order to reduce waste. In a nutshell this includes products which have previously been reworked and recycled, and can be recycled once again in the future.
We are committed to keeping our carbon footprints to an absolute minimum, which means aiming to source as many of our products from our trusted UK and Europe based suppliers and ensuring that deliveries are kept to an absolute minimum.
We’re always looking ahead to the future, so when we asked Natalie whether there was any inspiring design features that she would like to include in future projects, this is what she had to say:
‘I really want to incorporate all the senses into my designs, so an interior becomes a complete sensory experience. So rather than just focusing on the aesthetic alone, we would also think about the sounds, the scents, the tastes, and the feeling that a space evokes. It’s something I have always wanted to do, but never quite found the right project to fully explore.’
If you’re interested in finding out more about our company values and the services that we offer, head over to our website where you can book your free consultation.